By Sultan Shoaib
GILGIT, Nov 29 (APP):Handicrafts mean purely hand made materials and objects frequently used for the purpose of decoration.
Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) has a rich and diverse history of Handicrafts which dates back to thousands of years during Harappa, Mohen Jo Daro, and Indus Valley civilizations.
The handicrafts of GB a known for quality, uniqueness, aesthetic and cultural appeal, come after many years of struggle and experience. Embroidered gowns (choghas/attire with Dori work), wallets, key chains, caps, carpet weaving (gabbeh and rugs), stone work (sharma), wood utensils (walnut wood), woolen crafts (shawls, namda, pattu, yar), of Gilgit Baltistan are famous for their unique designs.
These items are of high quality and hand made by local artisans .Some handicrafts of Gilgit Baltistan have very significant cultural and religious values. Tourists from all corners of the world decorate their homes, hotels and other places with the unique handicrafts owing to the best quality standards of Gilgit Baltistan.
Some places of Gilgit Baltistan as inner Hunza, district Shigar in Baltistan region, and Darail and tangir valley in district Diamer are famous because of Islamic Handicrafts as prayer mats and Caps.
These Handicrafts proved to be a unity among artisans, women and disadvantaged groups and local communities to improve the socio-economic conditions of the communities in the region.
Akbar Hussain an artisan of traditional Gilgiti cap making from Hunza Aliabad said that “handicrafts are a unique creation of expertise and experience and for making traditional Gilgiti Caps (topi) and gowns we have to go through a tough routine, because our skill reflects the rich cultural and traditional heritage of Gilgit Baltistan in the world”.
“The handicraft of Gilgit Baltistan has unique designs and is exclusive beyond comparison” Akbar added.
Safder Shah a dealer of handicrafts in NLI market Gilgit said “Handicrafts of Gilgit Baltistan have a great potential in economic development of the region adding that handmade caps, gowns, shawls, mats, Yak Hair Rugs and wide range of Jewellery Items
of Gilgit Baltistan are almost 100% export oriented and providing direct employment to the hundreds of the unemployed artisans and businessmen”.
He informed ,”At present handicrafts were contributing a big amount through exports to the government exchequer and development of the country”. Azmat Ali who prepares clothes with khudi (old handmade machines for making the patto (cloth for Gilgit caps and gowns) said “famous traditional gowns and caps from GB have a worldwide recognition for their elegant designs and vibrant colors to suit the customers taste and appeal”.
He said ,”It is our tradition of Gilgit Baltistan that whenever any guest visits GB on special occasions, as honor we present him traditional famous caps and gowns from GB.” The artists from GB are continuously trying to bring changes in the designs which can suit the demands of the customers,but they are facing different issues related to their work. The artists should be given recognition and rewarded for their hard work and dedication.
Before the artists lose interest and the art gets endangered, the government should intervene and save the glory of the cultural legacy.
The craftsmen need encouragement. The traders should encourage these handicrafts so that the creation continues and production reflects the rich cultural heritage of the GB.This was the demand of artists and artisans of GB.